Impressive and Inspirational

Major General Boag CBE, General Officer Commanding Support Command, speaks to Army Cadet Magazine (May 2012)

Major General Colin Boag CBE graduated from Sandhurst in 1983 and has enjoyed a varied and successful Army career ever since. In April 2011 he took up his current appointment as the commander of the new Support Command in Aldershot with responsibility for delivering support to Army personnel across the UK. On April 2, 2012 Cadets Branch moved functionally to Support Command. Army Cadet met Major General Boag to ask about his first impressions of the ACF.

He started by confessing that he had never been a cadet himself and had had no dealings with cadets in his Army career to date. However, knowing that he was soon to have cadets amongst his responsibilities, he set about remedying this and has seen more cadets in the last six months than he had in the preceding 25 years. He has been hugely impressed by what he has seen so far, calling both the cadets and the adult volunteers “inspirational”.

“I consider it a very serious and important part of my job,” he said, going on to explain how the work of the ACF touches on much that Support Command does. Firstly it is at the forefront of the Army’s community engagement effort, helping the Army remain connected with the society that it serves and from where it draws its soldiers and officers. It showcases the Army to the population at large.

It also very much supports the Government’s drive to improve the opportunities for young people, “I would even go so far as to say the ACF is the model of how the Government should be working with young people,” he added.

The ACF instils the Army’s Values and Standards in tens of thousands of young people every year and the Army is obviously delighted with any that choose to go on to follow a military career. However, Major General Boag is clear that it also benefits greatly from those who do not join up. “Those excellent young men and women take with them an understanding and appreciation of the Army, its role and the range of tasks it undertakes at home and overseas. The Army needs the support of the taxpayer to continue to fulfil its role and tens of thousands of the UK’s future tax payers are currently in the ACF.”

Throughout Brigadier James Plastow’s Youth Engagement Review, the Army was categorical about its desire to retain close connection and involvement with the ACF. Major General Boag explained that he intends to ensure the Chain of Command going down from him, through the Brigades down to ACF Commandants, is both understood and strengthened. He sees nothing but opportunities for the ACF with its move to Support Command. He intends to improve awareness of the ACF across the Army, hoping that in future no one will have the same experience as him: a 29-year Army career that has no connection with cadets. Through this he aims to engender more support from the Army – everything from making any appropriate redundant Army kit available to the ACF more easily to encouraging members of the Army’s sports teams to take an active interest in cadet sport.

Recognising the enormous value of the cadet experience, he wants to improve it even further. Part of this means ensuring the right people are around the movement. He considers people like the highly skilled adventurous training staff at CCAT in Capel Curig as being key to the future success of the ACF. He also wants to help tackle the shortfall of adult volunteers, and especially officers, by exploring mechanisms that will assist in targeting former Army personnel who are now settled in the community, in civilian jobs, and find themselves missing the camaraderie of their military days. “While becoming an adult volunteer in the ACF is demanding, it also presents opportunities for personal development and gaining valuable vocation qualifications. Maybe we need to make more of that,” he argued.

“In short, in the ACF I see nothing but goodness; nothing but opportunity. I am hugely excited to become involved with the ACF at this stage in its history and look forward to helping it evolve and strengthen in the time to come, ” he concluded.